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review 2017-09-11 01:10
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula - Bram Stoker,Maurice Hindle,Christopher Frayling

"Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late, the pain of sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horrors as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads, to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams."

 

I finished this book a couple of days go. This was my first read of Dracula and by some luck, I basically went into the story blind. I've read a fair amount of vampire fiction - from the sci-fi to the campy to the terrifying, but none that really riffed on this story. I've seen enough vampire flicks, but strangely, no version of Stoker's. I'm not sure how that happened really, but I'm glad it did. Going into this without any preconceived notion of the story (only of the characters) made this experience all the more...breathtaking.

 

In light of that, I've really struggled with what to say in my review. It's all been said, truly, and honestly there were sections that I'm sure didn't sink in...some of the heavily accented parts especially...

 

“I must gang ageeanwards home now, miss. My grand-daughter doesn’t like to be kept waitin’ when the tea is ready, for it takes me time to crammle aboon the grees, for there be a many of ’em, and miss, I lack belly-timber sairly by the clock.

 

Ummm...what?

 

But I think what I will remember most is that Dracula, the monster, was really very...well, he scared the bejesus out of me.

 

The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.

 

There was a night of some uncomfortable sleep for me after finishing...I think it's because I had immersed myself in it that day in a push to complete the book and move on. What I found is that there is some real psychological horror going on that sort of eeks into your bones - it's a sense of despair that's hard to shake. Whether it be Jonathan's entrapment in the castle, or watching Lucy's life helplessly slip away, or the unhinging of Renfield, or when you know what's going on with Mina and everyone relegates it to a one-liner in their diary..."Mina looks pale today...", there's subtlety in the telling that ratchets up the tension. All this despite the fact that we know who the monster is and further, we have seen so many variations of him that this should be watered down in some way.

 

Not so for me.

 

My only complaint is that Van Helsing drags out the narrative longer than my modern sensibility really wanted...I get why, here he says:

 

“To believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who so defined faith, ‘that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue. For one, I follow that man. He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of the big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him, but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe.”

He has to bring the gang around on what they are dealing with...to convince them to believe. No small feat. I suppose I should be grateful that we're not treated with Van Helsing's journal entries themselves and only read him through the voice of one of the gang, Jonathan, Dr. Seward or Mina. Sometimes the man can ramble for two or three pages of their journals, and I can only expect that they're recounting the highlight reel there. I can't imagine how glazed over I'd be if I were reading his own mind...oi vey.

 

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and marveled at the epistolary format and how it spun a little romance into the book. We read the gang's inner most secrets as they are experiencing them, the love (especially Seward's unrequited love of Lucy) and the horror and the devastation. Together they piece together Dracula by combining their journals and passing them between themselves - there's an inherent intimacy there that the reader shares. It's special.

 

I look forward to revisiting this down the road...perhaps by seeing one of those Stoker flicks, definitely by listening to it performed on audio, maybe by getting an annotated copy to help me parse out bits that I didn't get. Definitely going to do that. Just, not right now. I need some breathing room... like a fine wine. Dracula himself would appreciate that.

 

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text 2017-08-01 02:07
And for my final book...
Dracula - Bram Stoker Dracula - Bram Stoker

I haven't finished reading it yet, so a mid-book review for the game. I have never read the original Dracula before, despite all the offshoots, reworks, short stories and movies I've run across. I am enjoying the fact the the movie, Bram Stoker's Dracula, with Gary Oldman, follows the books so closely, albeit with the addition of the romance between Dracula and Mina that the book doesn't have. The movie is actually helping me keep track of the book, because even with my extensive reading of British writers, there are some accents in this book I almost can't understand. I like that the men in the story don't totally blow Mina off when she contributes to the group, but the effusive declarations of love and loyalty and friendship and devotion are a little gag inducing. We'll see how I feel when I get to the end of the book.

 

8/2/17- Finished the book, not impressed. Go watch the movie. Got really fed up with the "Include Mina, don't include Mina, include Mina, don't include Mina". Make up your damn mind already. Unfortunately, the speechifying didn't improve as the story went. By the end I was skimming Van Helsing's page and a half monologues because they were so pedantic. Bleh. I'm also disappointed that Stoker made no attempt to add dimension to Dracula's character. It's possible to do this even if there is no POV from Dracula directly. Something beyond the one dimensional evil being out for conquest only. I guess the only thing I found redeeming about this book is that it helped spawn a whole subgenre of literature, vampire fiction, which helped spawn urban paranormal, paranormal, alternate history paranormal, etc. etc.

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review 2017-02-08 00:00
Dracula
Dracula - Bram Stoker,Brooke Allen Good book, enjoyable, but I think the other vampire series have ruined it for me.
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review 2016-12-24 00:00
Dracula
Dracula - Bram Stoker Dracula - Bram Stoker ~*Full review on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Narration:

The narrators for this Audible Editions version were fabulous. Each character has their own narrator for their various journal entries, letters, etc., and they were all easily distinguished from each other. I listened at 1.25% speed, which helped with the 15 hour, 28 minute length.

Feels:

I was mostly just very intrigued the whole way through! It was so very different than anything I’ve ever read. I was invested in the characters but not terribly attached, if that makes sense. I felt like I learned a lot from this novel, even though it was fiction. I learned a lot about British/European culture at that time, how they looked at the supernatural, and how they looked at women.

Characters:

First of all, let’s get this Count Dracula straight. Dracula is not something out of True Blood or Twilight. He is not sexy. He does not sparkle. He is not emo or hurt and in need of someone to comfort and heal him. He is evil, cruel, barbaric, and intent on taking over the world. Ok, maybe just England, but still. He is imposing and has a certain ability to manipulate people even without his supernatural powers, something that I think must have been a part of even his regular-human personality.

Then you have the other main characters, which starts off with Jonathan Harker and his fiancee’ (later wife) Mina. They are just normal people trying to live a happy life, and suddenly they are thrown into this mess of Dracula’s creating. Jonathan actually travels to Dracula’s castle, never realizing until much later that the Count is much more than a normal man. Mina doesn’t actually meet Dracula until much later, but she has quite an experience with him due to his involvement with her dearest friend, Lucy.

Lucy is the person who actually brings all the other characters together. She is the typical Victorian blushing virgin, and somehow manages to attract marriage proposals from several men all at once. When she becomes a target for some unknown horror, they all come together – not without some awkwardness – to try to help her.

Plot:

The plot can be summed up in two words: vampire slayers. Because while this book takes AGES to get to the point, in the end that’s what it’s about. Vanquishing the evil that is Count Dracula and his minions, preventing him from further colonization. There are a couple of sub-plots, but they really don’t add a whole lot to the story, in my opinion. Like many books of this era, Dracula is very wordy and goes on and on and on about points that most modern readers really don’t care about.

Worldbuilding/Setting:

The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
Stoker does a marvelous job of making us see, here, feel, and even smell the setting of Transylvania, the seaside, London. I have absolutely no complaints. I never once felt as though I couldn’t picture the world of the characters. To him of course, the world was HIS world.

Rating/Other Thoughts:

Let me get to these other thoughts before I give my rating.

First of all, the religious atmosphere of this book. It really took me by surprise, but I guess, given that the main characters are British during the 1890s (Queen Victoria’s reign). I was disappointed that the only things (other than garlic) to repel the vampires are relics of the Christian church. I was extremely disappointed by how many pages were devoted to the characters musing on their rightness with God, on whether or not they would go to heaven or hell, and other similar topics. All very accurate to how people thought and believed during that time.

Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause.
Secondly, the treatment of women. Again it’s very accurate to how women in Victorian England were expected to behave, how they were looked at by men and the world at large. Mina Harker, at least, does not entirely accept the traditional role of the fainting female even if she is very willing to accept being the weaker sex. Accurate or not, I find the subservience the female characters demonstrate disturbing. Also disturbing is that Jonathan Harker objects to the female vampire who come to him based solely on the fact that they appear sexually attractive and do not behave like Victoria’s shrinking violet female model. He is attracted to them by their beauty and their open admission of their desire, and yet he feels he sins in the attraction.

I realize that this is all my perspective through a 21st century lens. The points that strike me as repression and bigotry were completely normal and accepted in society at that time. Does that make them right? Of course not. It does explain how and why characters reacted the way they did, however inexplicable their actions seem to a modern reader.

Overall, I’m giving 4 stars. The story, for all its faults, is still gripping even over a hundred years later. Dracula has given rise to countless spin-off tales, even if most modern day readers consider vampires (and werewolves) more sexy than terrifying. Vampires, with their super-human powers of shape changing and manipulation, have enthralled people’s imaginations for decades. I don’t see Dracula leaving the classics list any time soon.

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Holy shit, I FINALLY finished this damn book. Real review to come.
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review 2016-12-01 10:48
Furioser Start des Horrorromans, der mit der Zeit an zunehmenden Blutverlust leidet
Dracula - Bram Stoker

Was mich zu Beginn und bis mehr als zur Hälfte des Romans noch restlos begeistert hat - nämlich die innnovative stilistische Tagebuchform und die unterschiedlichen Erzählperspektiven der handelnden Personen, die alle Aufzeichnungen führen - wurde schlussendlich zum größten Ärgernisfaktor in diesem ansonsten so brillianten Roman. Sobald die Vampirjägertruppe so bei ca. Seite 300 auch physisch zusammengekommen ist und alle handelnden Personen dieselben Dinge erleben, wendet sich diese Innovation gegen sich selbst, da alle Tagebuchaufzeichnungen unentwegt untereinander abgeglichen werden, und ein und dasselbe Ereignis permanent aus unterschiedlichen Sichten so lange wiedergekäut wird, bis es komplett ausgelutscht und blutleer ist. So geschehen zum Beispiel bei dem Ereignis des Wundmals durch die Hostie, das ich mindestens SECHS Mal aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven und zu unterschiedlichen Zeitpunkten immer und immer wieder lesen musste. Ich weiss, dass es 1897 noch kein professionelles Lektorat gegeben hat, aber eine helfende Hand mit einem Rotstift, die absatzweise diese unsäglichen und seehr langweiligen Redundanzen herausstreicht und eliminiert, hätten dem Roman sehr geholfen und ihn ohne viel Aufwand auf 5 Sterne geschraubt. Ich hatte das Gefühl: Je länger der Roman dauert, desto mehr Blut verliert er - fast ist es so, als ob Dracula höchstpersönlich sukzessive alles Leben aus ihm herausgesaugt hätte. Sogar das Finale ist sehr lapidar und kein bisschen mehr spannend. Aber wie gesagt - 100 Seiten weniger und meine Kritik wäre obsolet.

Ansonsten inhaltlich und sprachlich sehr ansprechend und genial: Wundervolle Beschreibungen von  Landschaften, Kultur und gruselig abergläubischer Landbevölkerung, von Gebäuden wie das Schloss oder das Irrenhaus, liebevolle Entwicklung von allen Figuren insbesondere den Antagonisten wie dem verrrückten Renfield, dem Grafen,...

Großartige Sittenbilder der Entstehungszeit z.B.  kannte man 1897 keine Blutgruppen. Das ist schon sehr putzig beschrieben, dass die Qualität der Transfusion von der Rechtschaffenheit & Konstitution des Spender-Mannes abhing - Frauen wurden gar nicht als qualitiativ geeignet betrachtet. Am lustigsten fand ich die philosophische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Konzept der Aufklärung in einem fantastischen Horrorroman. Alle Figuren versicherten sich nachdrücklich bei Erleben des fantastischen Horrors unentwegt der eigenen Modernität und Wissenschaftlichkeit.
"Wer hätte wohl noch vor einem Jahr, inmitten unseres wissenschaftlichen, skeptischen, nur an Tatsachen orientierten neunzehnten Jahrhunderts eine solche Möglichkeit auch nur in Erwägung gezogen?"

Spannend ist auch noch, wie originalgetreu eigentlich manche Filme waren, die ich zum Thema Dracula gesehen hab. Fast alles ist schon der Feder von Bram Stoker entsprungen und nicht der der Filmemacher. Im Prinzip hat Stoker die alten Legenden zwar zusammengefasst, aber die Figur Dracula quasi im Alleingang mit all ihren Stärken und Schwächen erfunden und geprägt.

Fazit: Eigentlich 3,5 Sterne, aber weil mich das Buch zum Ende hin gar so genervt hat, kann ich ums verrecken nicht auf 4 Sterne aufrunden. Nichtsdestotrotz eine Lese-Bildungslücke, die es wert ist, gestopft zu werden.

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